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How & Why Do I Need to Set the "White Balance"?

written by: Lynn Little•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 3/5/2010

Setting the white balance on a digital video camera is an important step in making sure that you get true color when shooting video.

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    Adjusting Color Settings

    Your digital video camera sets all of these color levels based on what it reads as pure white. If that reading is off, then your video will have a tint to it. Most digital video cameras have an automatic white balance setting. Sometimes you might notice a blue or orange tint to your video. This is an indication that the white balance is not set right for the current lighting.

    Sometimes if you are in the light but your subject is in the shade, the coloring might be off for your video since the white appears different to the camera in sun and shade. This is easily solved by setting the white balance to the proper lighting setting of your subject. For some video cameras, setting the white balance is a menu function while others might have an actual white balance toggle button located on the camera.

    If the white balance is a menu setting, then select the correct one for your current conditions. You are likely to have four choices when it comes to setting the white balance: indoor, outdoor, auto, and hold. Most of the time the auto setting should work fine but just be aware that you can set the white balance if you are experiencing color problems.

    Higher-end digital video cameras are likely to have a white balance toggle switch located on the video camera. To set the white balance, take a white sheet of paper and place it next to your subject. Then, zoom in and then flip the white balance button to the correct setting. For example, flipping the switch up will set the white balance for indoor lighting. This will take a few seconds. Once the camera is finished, you are now ready to shoot video. Just remember that when you change lighting conditions that you need to re-white balance the video camera.

    For specifics on white balancing your video camera, check your owner's manual as the method might vary slightly.